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Marlin Jackson - United States Marine Corps

I’d always had nightmares, but they got worse every year, especially one recurring dream.  Manning a .50 caliber machine gun, I had a jam, and then I bolted upright in bed and shouted, “Feed me!  Feed me!”  Something else happened over there I haven’t told you about, but I was in the middle of the shit, and I screamed, “Feed me!  Feed me!” and I looked over at my loader, and he had taken a round right between his running lights.  That’s my most favorite fucking get-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night entertainment.  A couple others come back to me all the time, too – mostly just good shootouts where I lost buddies.  You don’t need to hear anymore of that shit.

Also, I had regular flashbacks that grew worse as the years went by.  For me, they were more like space walks.  Once, I worked for a cable T.V. company in Boise, Idaho.  While driving my pickup from one jobsite to another in downtown traffic, something strange happened.  I drove along, blinked and suddenly, I looked out onto the street and had no idea where I was.  Totally confused and scared almost to tears, I didn’t know what town I was in, what I was doing in that truck, where I was going – nothing.   I’d been dropped into a parallel universe, where everyday familiar things are suddenly completely foreign.  I looked around but found nothing I recognized, so I drove the pickup onto the sidewalk and managed to get it stopped. 

I sat in the cab of the pickup ready to explode, and I had no idea what to do or where to go.  Also, I had no sense of time, and I couldn’t tell how long the spell lasted.  Amazing no one called the police on me.  As frightened as I’d ever been in my life and completely clueless as to who I was or what the hell I was doing, the cops would have taken me to the nearest loony bin and wrapped me in rubber.  I’ve taken those little space walks on numerous occasions over the past years and still have no control over them. 

  • Perhaps the most frightening and devastating of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder’s symptoms is the dissociative flashback.  During an episode, the individual may be totally unaware of his current surroundings and see, hear, feel and smell the same sensations experienced during the actual traumatic event.  There can be total loss of control, and the individual may act out as if he were actually reengaged in the moment of the trauma.  Marlin must have been completely overwhelmed by the unexpected and bizarre experience.

Something else that sends me into that other world is certain odors.  I don’t know where it comes from or why, but I’ll get a whiff of something, and I am instantly transported back to the bush.  I mean, I’m there – living it again.  I see every detail going on around me.  Sounds do it, too.  Even today, when I hear a helicopter, I’m compelled to get up, walk outside and look around for that fucker, and then follow it until it disappears over the horizon.

  • Auditory and olfactory stimuli are powerful triggers that can induce spontaneous PTSD symptoms.


1. "What the hell do you want in life?"
2. Marine propoganda
3. A surreal landing
4. Empathy for the enemy
5. Serious trouble
6. A messy situation
7. My time in Vietnam
8. Drugs and alcohol
9. Nightmares and Flashbacks
10. Beyond therapy